When you see the word “iron” here on Hackster, you probably think of a soldering iron, used to construct a wide variety of electronic projects. To the rest of the world, however, an iron instead means something that is used to straighten clothing – an item that is produced in mass quantities, and which is both widely available and inexpensive.
But as Electronoobs has shown, it’s actually possible to convert one of these conventional irons into a homemade reflow hot plate for SMD soldering. It’s an ingenious and useful idea that is fairly straightforward to implement
The build starts out by disassembling a $15 clothing iron, which features only a simple on/off control for setting the maximum temperature. In its hot plate form, a solid state relay (SSR) is employed to apply power to the iron, allowing for more precise temperature control. A k-type thermocouple is used to sense the current temperature, and an Arduino Nano activates the SSR proportionally to the current iron temperature.
The system is still in somewhat of a prototype state, so various improvements are expected in the future, such as a cover for the electronics and possible interface and programming changes. Prototype state aside, the homemade hot plate still appears to work quite well in tests, making quick work of SMD PCBs in demos toward the end of the clip.